Robert Bartleh Cummings, more famously known as Rob Zombie, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on January 12, 1965. He is the oldest son of Louise and Robert Cummings, and has a younger brother, Michael David (aka Spider One; b. 1968), who is the lead singer of Powerman 5000. Growing up, Zombie loved horror movies, which have greatly influenced his music and filmmaking career; in 1983, he graduated from Haverhill High School. After graduating, he moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design, also briefly working as a production assistant on Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986).
Zombie and his then-girlfriend, Sean Yseult, co-founded the band White Zombie, named after the Bela Lugosi classic horror film of the same name (White Zombie (1932)). The band released their debut studio album, ‘Soul-Crusher’, in 1987; their second, ‘Make Them Die Slowly’, followed in 1989, but generated little buzz.
Following the release of their fourth extended play, however, White Zombie caught the attention of Geffen Records, who in 1992 went on to release their third studio album, ‘La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One’. This album sold over two million copies in the U.S., becoming the band’s breakout hit. White Zombie’s fourth and final album, ‘Astro-Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head’, was released in 1995 to critical and commercial success, ultimately becoming their most successful album. The band released a remix album in 1996 and disbanded the same year, officially breaking up in 1998.
Rob Zombie began working on a debut album in 1997; ‘Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International’ came out in 1998, selling over three million copies. Zombie formed his own record label, Zombie-A-Go-Go Records, in 1998.
Zombie composed the original score for the video game Twisted Metal III (1998) and designed a haunted attraction for Universal Studios in 1999. In 2000, he began working on his directional debut, House of 1000 Corpses (2003). Inspired mainly by classics such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), the film was delayed until 2003 due to distributional issues. Though criticized for its explicit depictions of violence and gore, it went on to gross over $16 million and has garnered a cult following.
Zombie’s second studio album, ‘The Sinister Urge’, was released in 2001 and sold over a million copies. In 2002, he married his longtime girlfriend Sheri Moon Zombie, who has appeared in all of his movies to date and often accompanies him on tour to choreograph dance routines and create costumes. Zombie released a sequel to ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ in 2005, entitled The Devil’s Rejects (2005). Although it received much more positive reviews than its predecessor, it was still criticized for its violent content. He released his third studio album, ‘Educated Horses’, the following year.
In 2007, Zombie decided to focus on his work as a filmmaker for a while; the same year, he would release his most polarizing movie to date: Halloween (2007), a remake of the 1978 classic of the same name (Halloween (1978)). It received a mixed reception, but was a box office hit, and still currently resides as the top Labor Day weekend grosser. Zombie directed a fictitious trailer entitled ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ (inspired by the exploitation flick Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975)) for Grindhouse (2007). In 2009, Zombie directed Halloween II (2009), which was critically panned, and The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009), which was based upon one of his comic book series.
Also in 2009, Zombie began working on a new album; ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool’ came out the following year. In 2011, he directed a horror-themed commercial for Woolite, and began work on a new film, The Lords of Salem (2012). Unlike Zombie’s previous efforts, ‘The Lords of Salem’ focused more on building suspense and a nightmarish, surreal atmosphere and less on brutal violence and excessive profanity. It ultimately received mixed reviews; just after its release, Zombie came out with his fifth studio album, ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’, his lowest-selling to date.
Zombie lent his voice to the superhero movie Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). He also began work on 31 (2016), which tells the story of five carnival workers who are trapped and forced to fight for survival against a gang of murderous clowns. It premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in January, and will be released in September. In April, Zombie’s sixth studio album, ‘The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser’, was released. Additionally, he has signed on to direct a film on the life of zany comic Groucho Marx, though a release date is uncertain.
Zombie is most recognized for his heavy metal style of music, influenced by his love of classic horror, and his exploitation/splatter-type movies. Overall, he has sold an estimated fifteen million albums worldwide, and his films have grossed over $150 million in total.
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